Baseball continued undeterred Monday after the first large-scale coronavirus scare hit only four days after the abbreviated season started.
A total of 11 Miami Marlins players and two coaches tested positive during a weekend series in Philadelphia. Miami players remained quarantined at their Philadelphia hotel for testing, and Phillies players were being quickly tested Monday as their home game vs. the Yankees was postponed.
The Marlins’ home games Monday and Tuesday against Baltimore were postponed, but COVID-19 fears did not wipe out any other games on Monday’s MLB schedule.
The Twins, meanwhile, are preparing for their fan-free home opener vs. St. Louis at Target Field on Tuesday night. The Twins beat the White Sox in two of three games in Chicago over the weekend, with both teams finding it difficult to observe social distancing and avoiding actions such as spitting.
There was some caution. On Monday the White Sox announced manager Ricky Renteria had symptoms of a cold and was being tested for COVID-19. His test came back negative.
Major league teams, in preparation for COVID-19 making a run through locker rooms, have 60 players available this season: 30 on an active roster, three on a “taxi squad” and the remainder training at nearby sites.
“When we are traveling, there [are] a ton of variables we cannot control,” Twins reliever Trevor May wrote Monday, on an off day before his team plays 16 days in a row. “The protocols can be extensive as possible [everything within each team’s control is followed to the T] and an outbreak still has a legitimate chance to happen.
“Getting tests back within 24 hours every time would be an improvement, but of course that’s probably not going to happen.”
Unlike the NHL, WNBA, MLS and NBA, Major League Baseball did not return in bubbles. There had been discussion of bubble sites in Arizona and Florida, but rising coronavirus numbers in those states in June meant Major League Baseball and players OK’d returning to home stadiums, although the Toronto Blue Jays are not being allowed to play in Canada.
Major league teams are tested every other day, with most results coming from a lab in Utah. There is a provision for expedited testing, a major league source confirmed.
Players not on the Twins active roster work out at the St. Paul Saints’ CHS Field. Teams can move players back and forth with roster moves, but the size of the overall group was intended to guard against a large-scale outbreak on teams.
Most players on the 30-man roster have apartments or houses in the Twin Cities during the season, and several have their families with them. The majority of the remaining players — who ordinarily would be playing minor league baseball — are housed at a downtown St. Paul hotel.
The group at CHS Field has daily practices and has enough players for intrasquad scrimmages.
“When we are traveling, there [are] a ton of variables we cannot control. The protocols can be extensive as possible [everything within each team’s control is followed to the T] and an outbreak still has a legitimate chance to happen.”
The Twins had two players who were regulars in 2019 test positive for COVID-19 when the team reported to Target Field in early July. Miguel Sano was cleared to play on July 15, joined the team and started at first base for Friday’s Opening Day. Willians Astudillo was cleared to play over the weekend after three weeks in quarantine and joined the group practicing at CHS Field.
Three nonroster players also have tested positive.
Under baseball’s return-to-play protocol, players and team officials who are tested are supposed to self-quarantine until test results are reported, although that can’t happen when teams are playing games. A player who tests positive can’t return to the team or travel until he has tested negative twice and is asymptomatic.